Six on Saturday: March 31

Real Spring, gardening-type Spring continues to hover in the distance, lingering down South perhaps.  There are hints here and there: swelling buds, the return of the robins, emerging bulb foliage.  Rain has been almost continuous, but at least it’s not snow, although according to the experts more of THAT is on the way.  Sigh!

To find six interesting things to show has been a challenge, but here goes.  #1  This is the very LAST of the carrots grown last season.  That’s not too bad, after all tomorrow it will be April Carrots last of  but it tells me that carrot production needs to increase this year.  #2  Normally, there would be a few salad greens needing to be thinned, so the first salads would be appearing from the potager’s beds.  In order to accomplish that this year, it took a bit of “cheating.”  I’d noticed a few stray Dandelion 1 weeds in the potager a few weeks ago.  Normally, they would have been eliminated immediately (No weeds are allowed in the potager!) but dandelions are delicious, and they were about the only bits of green, so they stayed.  Today, during a break before it rains again, they were harvested  Dandelion because in the super-saturated soil they pulled easily for total root removal.  They’ll make a great salad, slightly wilted with a bit of bacon, onion and cider vinegar.  It’s too wet to do much of anything else, but weed pulling is easy right now.  #3  I’m dying to sow peas, although with the forecast of low temps in the mid-20’s for the next ten days, there’s no rush.  The daffodils say “No rush” as well and are very slow to open this year.  Daffodil not open  I’m just delighted to see a bit of their color appearing.  A fully opened daffodil indicates that it IS time to plant peas, so it’s getting closer.  #4 While I’m waiting, I potted the dahlias that arrived from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, all shades of orange of course:  “Karma Corona,” “Sylvia,” and “Tour de Monde.”  If you don’t know Brent & Becky, they are adorable people, devoted to their family business.  Visit their website and if you’re in Virginia, visit their bulb shop and lovely gardens.  Dahlias planted in pots  #5 Since last week’s “Six” the rhubarb has emerged  Rhubarb 3-30-18 but before you are too impressed, this is only one out of 6 and so far the others are no-shows, and realize that the largest leaf shown is not even as long as my pointer finger!  Last year at this time they were football-sized leaves!  And lastly, #6 since there isn’t much happening outside, and all the potted amaryllis have finished blooming I am happy to see that a new young hibiscus has a bud.  This was a gift from a supplier at the last Garden Writers’ Conference.  Hibiscus compressed  I think it is called “Tango,” but I’ll need to look it up.  It’s a tropical, so will stay in a pot on the patio all summer and come back indoors to brighten my days next winter.  That’s my “Six on Saturday” to end March.  Last year there were rows of crops and tiny harvests beginning in the potager, but not this year.  Hopefully, shallots, onions, peas and salad crops can get planted soon, but with two days of snow in the 10-day forecast, I won’t hold my breath!  Happy Easter to ALL!

Thanks to The Propagator for hosting this meme.  Check out all the “Six on Saturday” contributors from various climates by clicking on the link.

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Refuse to be Thwarted!

So after a wasteful spell of sulking, I reviewed my “to-do” list with fresh eyes.  There must be SOMETHING I could do until the weather co-operated.  There is still snow in the most shady spots although it began raining on Monday night through Tuesday.  Needless to say, it is more than saturated out there.  This falling further behind in my well-made, but obviously overly optimistic planting schedule was causing my emotions to free-fall in a downward spiral, and that just won’t do!  My grandmother always said “Hope and plan for the best, but deal with the worst.  Do what you can do, and don’t fret about the rest.”

So with the first pause in the rain,  I picked up another 4,200 black walnuts from the front lawn.  There’s still at least 4-5,000 to go, but that’s all my “winter-do-little” muscles could tolerate.  It felt great to actually get outdoors between showers and move purposefully.  Add that number to the 11,100 that I picked up last fall, and no one should wonder that we’re having a ghastly winter.    Gh seedlings 3-30-18  Then I decided to gamble, and moved 10 flats of the hardiest plants to the greenhouse.  (Pansies, violas, dwarf favas, sweet peas) These overcast days are perfect for moving plants so they can adjust to brighter light without being sunburned.  I think I can keep it above freezing as the forecasters have revised daytime temps upward to 40’s and 50’s and the lowest night temperature up four degrees to 26F.  That created enough space for more seeding flats, so I’m back on schedule with 75 varieties planted so far.  That greatly improved my mood.  Potatoes planted in pots compressed  And then I realized that I could plant potatoes, since they were destined for pots between certain rows of the potager beds this year.  They could be moved into the greenhouse on the coldest nights and get off to an earlier start.  So, I rummaged in my pot mountain in the pole barn, selected pots the size I wanted and put 3″ of bagged composted cow manure in the bottom followed by 2″ of compost.  I chose 2 of the most-sprouted French Fingerlings for each pot, cutting them if need be so there were only 2 good sprouts per chunk.  I know some folks say you must let them air dry after cutting to “scar over and seal” the cut, but my grandmother never did, so I don’t usually either and there’s never been a problem.  A covering of another 2″ of compost will do for now and more will be added as the sprouts grow.  I just did 3 pots, and will do more as I have time and compost available.

I finished filling all available space under lights in the basement by transplanting more seedlings.  That total is only 1486, so I’m lagging behind the 2203 last year.  Unfortunately, the forecast is for mid-to-low 20’s at night for the next ten days and more SNOW on 2 of those days, so I’m not willing to risk moving more plants in the greenhouse yet.  At least there’s been a bit of progress, even if it’s only a tiny bit.


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This past weekend I had a booth at the Kentuckiana Spring Herb Symposium, which was great fun until I was pounded by a hailstorm while loading out, followed by getting soaked in a pouring rain.  That was definitely not fun.  And then the snowstorm that was a bit further north closed Interstate 65, so I couldn’t have driven home even if I’d had the energy.  What kept me going was the weather forecast, which for the next ten days was actually above freezing.  My mind kept singing, “When I get home, I can plant, plant, plant!”  Visions of placing rows of shallots, peas, onion sets, onion plants and sprinkling seeds of various salad greens in tidy, patterned rows carried me through any unpleasantness.  Eventually, I was home again and delighted to see that the ground was mostly bare of snow except for very shaded areas.  The snowfall was much greater south of us.     Crocus Purple compressed 3-24-18   There were lots of new purple crocuses joining the “Cream Beauty” ones in the Front Garden, and I finally found some  Daffodil buds compressed  daffodil buds, but no blooms, which tells me that the ground temperature is still too cold to plant peas.  And even the raised beds in the potager were still very soggy.   Darn!  So, instead of planting I spent the day unloading the truck and organizing the storage unit for packing the next show (the Central Indiana Spring Herb Symposium in mid-April) and watching the last two NCAA basketball games to determine the Final Four.  “Tomorrow I will plant!  Tomorrow I will plant!”  I went to bed with visions of the diagonal rows of shallots that will form the framework of the basic potager design this season, joining the diagonal garlic rows that are already emerging.    Planting day compressed  The seed box and my agonized-over-all-winter graph paper map of this year’s first plantings sat on the kitchen table next to my special gardener’s cup from Harrod’s and the Easter bunny tea pot, along with the potager journal to record everything accomplished.  I would hit the ground running soon after sunrise.

Morning arrived, the sun was shining, the birds were singing.  I actually spotted the first robin of the year out the bedroom window as I donned my oldest, favorite gardening apparel and comfy gardening shoes.  I made my pot of tea and thumbed through the seed packets that would be planted first, barely listening to the morning news in the background.  And then the weatherman’s voice penetrated my ecstatic anticipation.  “Heavy rain the next four days…blah, blah, blah…followed by falling temperatures and then another arctic blast that will bring…SNOW… next Tuesday, along with night-time temperatures of 22 degrees F.”


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Six on Saturday-March 24

Saturday again?!?  And snow again!  Although we are once again snow-covered, my thoughts are still centered upon the garden and preparations are well-underway, although in somewhat of a holding pattern until Mother Nature wins over Old Man Winter.  First on the agenda is the sweet potato, which has FINALLY decided to sprout!  Although put in water on Feb. 4th, it refused to grow.  Sweet potato 3-21-18  It was labeled “organic” but I suspect it was treated to prevent sprouting.  Last week, I scrubbed it with a rough washcloth dipped in hot water, and then draped a warm damp cloth over it for several hours.  Just a few days later, tiny sprouts began to emerge.  Normally I would be fretting that it’s so late, but with the super slow arrival of Spring, it may work out fine.  Since I couldn’t actually get into the garden, I did the next best thing…retail therapy.  I returned to the Amish seed store because they had just stocked seed potatoes.   French Fingerling   I’d planned to purchase “French Fingerling” potatoes, because a potager should have a few French items, and because this variety is supposedly delicious.  Also, it is especially good in potato grow bags because it is highly productive over a long period.  I’ll just open the harvest door on the bag and remove the number I need, and let the plants continue to grow.  The potatoes are long and narrow, with a reddish-rose skin and often rose splotched interiors.  That’s what I went to purchase, but impulse-buying caught hold and I also picked up a bag of “German Butterball.”  German Butterball  I know, they look pink in the photo, but they are actually a brownish gold, and are similar to “Yukon Gold.”  I picked them because they are a bit later than the French Fingerlings, and reputed to be good keepers.  I’ll have to grow them in large pots in the seldom used paths because there is no space left in the plan, but that will be a new procedure for me, so it will be fun.   Then I happened to stroll by a display of onion plants, and saw this bundle of “Candy” onions.  Candy onion plants  I’ve read rave reviews on its outstanding qualities, and D loves a sweet onion, so I’ll give them a go.  Not sure where they will fit on the plan, but I’ll tuck some here and there.  I should have just closed my eyes and asked someone to lead me to the door, but I glimpsed asparagus roots.  Asparagus roots  I left a small patch when I sold the farm, and have missed plucking those first stems and eating them right there in the garden.  Not a clue where these 10 “Jersey Giants” will go, but I bought 10 bags of cow manure on the way home to give them a good start.  Maybe they’ll go at the end of the Cutting Garden, with a fence so D won’t mow them off?  But until the snow melts and the ground is dig-able, they’ll remain in their plastic bag in the cool garage.  Amaryllis 3-21-18  And lastly, the first of the next group of amaryllis is just about to open which will add more color to my life.  I must admit….I’m really getting tired of WHITE!  Hopefully by next Saturday, I can report a plethora of planting progress in the potager!

As always, a big thanks to The Propagator for hosting this meme.  It’s a fun one, so join in!  You can view all the “Six” contributors at his blog by clicking on the link.

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Weather delay; Spring postponed!

Potager 3-21-18  Happy First Day of Spring!  (Insert groan here!)  It’s snowing, and it’s beautiful, but it’s not the way I wanted to celebrate the official start  of the growing season.  Potatoes were supposed to be planted on St Patrick’s Day, but that didn’t happen.  Still waiting for the first daffodil so the peas can go in the ground.  Think that will be delayed as well.  Our traditional “Welcome Spring” breakfast was an indoor event rather than on the upper deck.Deck table 3-21--18  It is a pretty view out the front door, but all the color from the crocuses and tiny iris bulbs is blanketed in white.  Front view 3-21-18  So, with Spring delayed and gardening postponed yet again, I’m spending my time making items for my booth at the upcoming Kentuckiana Herb Symposium this Saturday.  Just finished six “herbal” umbrellas.  Umb  It’s a fun task that I can do while I watch basketball.  Chives on umb  There are four of my favorite herbs on each umbrella. (Chives, lavender, rosemary, pineapple sage) I can’t count the number of umbrellas I’ve painted for my shop and shows over the years, but it’s a bunch.  Lav on umb  If there are any left after the show, I’ll put them for sale on my website.  It’s still snowing….what can I paint next?

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Six on Saturday-March 17

Freezing rain is making everything sparkle, and ensures that there won’t be any traditional planting of potatoes or peas on St. Patrick’s Day here in central Indiana.  I’m just hoping it won’t coat the satellite dish and prevent enjoyment of the NCAA tourney later today.  So, stuck indoors, here’s the really EASY Easter ideas gleaned from the recent Indianapolis Flower & Patio show. Easter 1  1) This pretty daisy floral centerpiece was enhanced by adding glittered eggs on dark green bamboo “stems.”  That’s certainly easy.  2) Adding a white plate to hold additional eggs at the vase’s base is a quick, colorful idea.  One could also use a low basket filled with “grass” to hold the eggs instead.  And, I like the pastel straws that echo the Easter colors.  Easter 2  3) Inverting a wine glass over a green “nest” filled with jelly bean “eggs” is also a very quick and easy idea.  And converting it into a candle holder is a bonus plan. Easter 4  4) Covering an old pot or berry box with moss for small floral arrangements adds a natural, spring feel.  If the grass isn’t green outdoors, at least it can be green indoors!  5) Filling baby terra cotta pots with jelly beans is a cute idea, too. Easter table compressed And finally, using a wooden picnic table and bench for additional seating, even indoors, turns Easter dinner into a fun picnic.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if it were warm enough to have an Easter picnic outdoors?  It’s certainly looking doubtful for our area, as more cold, cold temperatures and snow is in our forecast.  Thinking about Easter does make Spring seem closer!  If it’s not icy on your roads and you’re in the area, the Indianapolis Flower & Patio show is still open today and tomorrow!

That’s my “Six on Saturday” for St. Patrick’s Day.  Thanks to The Propagator for suggesting and hosting this meme.


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Garden show time!

It’s snowing…again!  And, the 10-day forecast has been revised to include night-time temperatures in the low to mid-20’s, which means plants still can’t be moved into the little greenhouse.  Nor can mulch be pulled back, or planting begin.  Sigh!  What’s a gardener to do when she/he can’t garden?  Hop in the car and go to a garden show!  In my case, it was the Indianapolis Flower & Patio show.  While not a grand event, like the Philadelphia Flower Show (my favorite!) or the Chelsea Flower show (elegant, but crowded) or the Hampton Court Show (my second favorite) the Indy show is a worthwhile event, especially at this time of year when the snow blows and every fiber of your being just craves green and blooms.  McNamara cake compressed  Wouldn’t this birthday “cake” be perfect for a farmer or rancher?  Livestock tanks filled with flowers, and the top “60” rotated while the candles flickered.  The rest of the booth was brimming with colorful buckets.  I suddenly felt much, much better.McNamara compressed  While sadly most of the “landscapes” were more focused on patios and outdoor kitchens than plants, there were a few plantings  Patio compresswed  to enjoy.  This stone fountain was pretty.  Maybe that’s what I need in my Front Garden Re-Do?  Stone fountain compressed  The brilliant forsythia, yellow-trumpeted daffodils and perky blue crocuses were very cheering.  And since none of my hellebores are even budded, seeing these in flower made me hopeful.  Hellebores F&P compressed  I know, the bright orange kalanchoe in the foreground wouldn’t be blooming (or safe outdoors) while the hellebores flower, but with all the recent beastly storms, getting enough plants in bloom trucked in was no doubt a challenge.  I’m willing to give them a pass, aren’t you?  The same applies to this tulip, oxalis combination.  Tulips & oxalis compressed  Do purple-leaved shamrocks count for St. Patrick’s Day luck?  And this setting inspired me for Easter.  Easter table compressed  I’ll show you some close-ups of some of the ideas I’ll copy and more bits of the show when I figure out how to get them off my phone and into this blog, because unfortunately, my camera battery died and I hadn’t brought a back-up.  Technology…it’s a love/hate relationship….


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